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Dental Problems Cause Frequent School Absences

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Aired 12/1/09

A new report finds more than half-a-million California kids miss at least one school day a year due to dental problems. The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research says access to affordable dental care is a major factor.

— A new report finds more than a half-million California kids miss at least one school day a year due to dental problems. The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research says access to affordable dental care is a major factor.

The report finds children whose family can't afford dental care miss more school days. In fact, nearly three out of four kids who need care but can't afford it miss two or more days a year.

UCLA's Nadereh Pourat wrote the report. She says annually, about 7 percent of California school children have absences due to dental problems.

"Statistically it's about the same as children who miss school to other important chronic conditions such as asthma, even though the actual number is a little bit higher," Pourat points out.

Pourat says the absences caused by dental issues cost California schools nearly $30 million a year.